The day everyone has been waiting for is finally here, especially the Patriots. The first pre-season game features the New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Even though it is just a pre-season game, the excitement of having Patriots football back is at an all time high given New England’s eventful offseason.
With off season acquisitions the likes of Darrelle Revis, Jimmy Garoppolo and Brandon Browner expected to be on the field tonight, this will be the first chance to get a preview of the 2014 Patriots in action.
What will make this game different from the rest of the pre-season games is the fact that the Patriots and Redskins enjoyed three days of joint practice. According to many articles on the practice sessions, Tom Brady and his cast were clearly the dominant ones against the Redskins defense. Despide Rob Gronkowski’s absence this week, Brady and Edelman seemed to work the middle of the field with out much issue.
Other reports also stated how dominant the Patriots defense was but it should be noted that some defensive players will be absent from todays game. The most important of course will be the absence of Gronkowski who was held out of practice all this week. His absence has been marked as a precaution as he continues to heal from a torn ACL. Others of note include Chris Martin, Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon and Dominique Easley as they are in the PUP and NFI list.
Jemea Thomas, Cameron Gordon, Ja’gared Davis, Bryan Stork, Tyler Gaffney, Brandon Bolden and Michael Hoomanawanui will also be missing the game due to injuries and missing practice. The limited list of players includes Sealver Siliga and DJ Williams but they might not even dress as they sustained minor injuries during practice on Tuesday.
For the rest of the Patriot’s cast that will be on the field, they will be facing a very depleted Redskins team. Pierre Garcon is already missing and DeSean Jackson was seen limp off the practice field Wednesday with a twisted ankle.
The positions for the Patriots to keep an eye on include, safety, right guard, center, and tight end. The safety position has been a question mark throughout training camp as many have been substituted in and out. Devin McCourty will for certain take up one of the safety spots but his counterpart is far from decided. Does Duron Howard have what it takes? Is Tavon Wilson going to meet expectations given where he was drafted? Maybe it will end up being a corner back that slides into the second safety spot. Both Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington where positioned as safeties during training camp.
A lot of shifting coming from the right guard position, mainly due to the center position. According to the New England depth chart, Josh Kline seems to be inline for the position. Kline was a substitute for Mankins in 2013 when Nate Solder was injured. Josh Kline has played just about every offensive line position throughout training camp, so it seems rather elementary that he has the inside track on the spot at right guard.
At center, the question remains: Who will get the first snaps? The incumbent is Ryan Wendell, but through out training camp Dan Connolly (right guard in 2013) has been taking quite a few snaps. Ryan Stork will not be playing in this game due to injury, which means that one center will work with Brady and the other with Mallett and Garoppolo.
The tight end position will be an interesting one as Gronkwski will be out along with Hoomanawanui and Williams. Justin Jones and Asa Watson will be the featured TE’s so it will be interesting to see what Brady makes of them. Jones has received a lot of praise at camp and has the opportunity to really stand out with the first string offense. The lack of depth at tight end will also lead to receiver Josh Boyce as well as running back James White and Roy Finch to getting more chances at proving themselves.
With kickoff a mere hours awe, it is time to get ready for another patriot season that could possibly end in Glendale Arizona, but it all starts tonight in Landover, Maryland.
Don’t forget to join us at the Gameday Page to enjoy all the live action!